A Cat’s Social Life

When I first adopted my cat, I was of the opinion like many that cats would be les social and more independent than dogs. While this may be true in some cases, this is a misconception, and I first noticed it when getting to know my own cat. In cat psychology (Yes, it is a real brand of psychology) one can see that when compared to dogs and infants, cats are not all that different. One aspect that has been studied to explain why a cat’s behavior is commonly seen as aloof/cold, while a dog is happier/caring is their sociability. 

“One of these studies was basically looking at the sociability of cats, and we ran basically the exact same experiment that had already been done with dogs and we look at how a cat reacts to a person, how long they’re going to spend near to them, and we saw that cats spent basically equivalent amounts of times with people as we saw with the dogs.” (Vitale, 2024, 2:35) 

The results between cats and dogs didn’t show any large discrepancies. There were cats that spent a lot of time near/with a person, while some fell in the middle and others spent no time at all with a person. These results were consistent in dogs, considering that all dogs are not hyper-social, contrary to popular belief.  

Through this study, people can see that the attachment a dog/cat portrays for their owner is the same type of attachment styles that infants portray for their caregiver. Another aspect that is important for those thinking of adopting a kitten is that there is a certain age period where socialization is important. If you want to help ease future social anxiety for your cat when being introduced to other animals or new people, you should try to introduce them to different social interactions (dogs, other cats, people) in-between two-to-eight weeks of age.  

Another fun fact about a cats sociability is their ability to be sensitive to social cues which in turn can cause them to mark socially important areas with their scent. This can be a reason why your cat, if like mine, continually scratches at your couch day after day.  

“cats like to scent mark around socially important areas. So, the couch is a perfect example. Everyone’s hanging out on the couch. There’s a lot of smells on the couch. So, the cat’s just trying to add their smell to this socially important area by scratching” (Vitale, 2024, 19:35) 

In case you’re wondering how to stop your cat from scratching at your couch, Vitale says to place a scratching post/cat tree in a socially important area, so your cat doesn’t feel left out. 

For more information on the psychology of cats please check out our databases and check out the particular podcast episode, Speaking of Psychology: “What’s going on inside your cat’s head? With Kristyn Vitale, PhD” 

Extra information from our own catalogue- Changes in sociability of shelter cats, Decoding Your Cat, and more!


Mills, Kim, Host. Vitale, Kristyn, Researcher “What’s going on inside your cat’s head?”.” Speaking of Psychology, 275, American Psychological Association, February 2024, https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/cat-human-bond.   

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